Jamaica experienced six incidents of meteorological drought in 2021 - Survey

KINGSTON, Jamaica— Jamaica experienced six incidents of meteorological drought during 2021, with conditions ranging from moderately dry to severely dry.

The western parish of Hanover was the only one that did not experience drought conditions, while St Thomas experienced five periods of drought, the most by any parish.

This is according to data contained in the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 2021. The climate data was provided by the Meteorological Service, Jamaica (MSJ)

According to the data, in the July/August and August/September periods, wet conditions were experienced in all parishes. However, this changed during the September/October period.

The information provided by the MSJ shows that annual rainfall for the year was 1 663 mm, a 4.0 per cent decrease relative to the previous year. This represents 94.0 per cent of the 30-year (1971–2000) accumulated mean.

“The reduction reflects drier conditions across most parishes between April and July, and September to December. Most parishes recorded annual rainfall readings below their 30-year mean values, with only four parishes recording above-normal rainfall for the year, compared to seven in 2020,” said the Survey.

It said Portland was the wettest parish, recording 3 489 mm of rainfall, while Clarendon recorded the lowest annual rainfall, with a reading of 1032 mm.

There were contrasting weather conditions across the island during the year. Dry conditions prevailed for the first half and last quarter of the year with several parishes experiencing meteorological drought. These conditions were temporarily relieved by above-normal rainfall in March, which is traditionally the driest month.

Dry conditions returned in April and persisted until wet conditions materialised in the summer months when the island was impacted by Tropical Storms Elsa, Grace and Ida. The Standard Precipitation Index (SPI) showed that from December 2020/January 2021 most parishes experienced dry conditions, with six parishes exhibiting meteorological drought.

The SPI values indicate that the country experienced dry conditions, ranging from abnormally dry to severely dry, with the exception of July/ August and August/September which were moderately wet and near-normal wet, respectively.

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